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September 13, 2002 - Image 90

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-13

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Seth Chafetz in his garden
with a few of his favorite

blooms, including a rare
Blettilla orchid, center.


irmingham city commis-
sioner, figure skating coach
and dedicated urban gar-
dener Seth Chafetz, nur-
tures a longtime love affair with the
"I grew up in the woods in
Columbus, Ohio," says Chafetz, who
remembers as far back as age 4 when
he scoured the landscape surround-
ing his home, collecting wildflowers
in a little bucket. "It became an actu-
al hobby that my parents encour-
aged," he says.
For the past 13 years, Chafetz has


indulged his passion, transforming
his small Birmingham back yard into
a woodland wonderland. His favorite
flora include sweet woodruff, Showy
Ladyslipper orchids, Blettilla orchids,
Foxtail lilies, trillium, anemones,
spigellia, bee balm and McCartney
"I find a spot for everything I
love," says Chafetz, explaining the
seemingly haphazard organization of
his garden. There are barely defined
borders and height considerations,
but the key, he says, is color. "I pri-
marily choose .blues and purples with

a contrast of orange and pink."
Chafetz guided garden lovers
through his yard this summer when
The Community House hosted its
Urban Garden Tour. Garden afi-
cionados gawked especially at the
small purple Blettilla orchids peeking
through the flower borders.
When he's not gardening, Chafetz
immerses himself into local politics,
arguing for property ordinances, tree
preservation and hate crimes legisla-
tion. He's the voice of Birmingham
residents. He comes by his political
activism naturally, as his dad is a

noted political satirist who did a
series on the Holocaust.
Chafetz also spends time at his
home away from home, the Detroit
Skating Club, where he's been a
longtime coach.
This fall, Chafetz's yard will blos-
som with Japanese toad lilies,
Japanese anemones and monkshood.
As the days grow shorter, he'll spend
less time weeding and watering, but
the garden will continuously bloom
— from summer phlox to early
spring trillium.

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